Imagine a cute and cuddly small car that gets sent to boot camp and told to man up and build some muscles. That’s just what Ford did with the Ka+.

It took a compact five-door hatchback, then raised the ride height, tweaked the suspension, given it a bolder front end and fitted some rugged bodystyling, to produce the Ka+ Active.

It’s not a common sight on the roads and it will remain a real rarity as Ford has just announced it plans to stop Ka+ production for the UK market in September this year.

That’s a shame, as underneath all the extra cladding, mesh grille and silver roof rails, sits a practical and surprisingly spacious, five-seater supermini with a decent level of equipment and more than a dash of personality.

Riding on a set of grey-finish 15-inch alloy wheels, the Action Man styling outside is matched inside with a set of all-weather rubber floor and cargo mats which means passengers can jump aboard without worrying about taking off muddy boots.

The test car was finished in bronze metallic ‘Canyon Ridge’ paintwork, a £750 option, with ‘Sienna Hazel’ interior trim. While the tone is thoroughly outdoorsy and adventurous, the Active model comes with plenty of creature comforts, including manual air conditioning, cruise control and speed limiter, a leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls and height adjustment on the driver’s seat.

Satellite navigation is not fitted, but thanks to the Ford Sync system anyone with a smartphone can connect through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and fire up a satnav app, in my case the excellent Waze, on the 6½-inch touchscreen.

A nod to the continuing desire to integrate new technology is made by the provision of a pair of USB sockets to connect devices and also prove useful for charging phones.

The test car also came fitted with an optional £350 pack including rear parking sensors, heated and electrically-foldable door mirrors and powered rear windows.

Six airbags, electronic stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system help to protect occupants, and Ford’s MyKey technology allows owners to set maximum speed and audio volume limits, and ensure safety features are not disabled when young and inexperienced drivers drive the car.

Options available range from rain-sensitive wipers, automatic headlights and heated windscreen, to heated front seats and electronic automatic temperature control.

Power on the test car came from a three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine that develops about 85 horsepower. I made a 450-mile round trip to north Devon and it was more than happy cruising at motorway speeds, though you need to work the five-speed manual gearbox once you hit any hilly roads.

That said, I managed fuel consumption within a whisker of the claimed official 49.6mpg.

A more powerful 1.5-litre turbodiesel is also available for drivers who cover higher mileage.

Whichever engine option you fancy, if you want a Ka+ you will have to get your skates on.

Auto facts

Model: Ford Ka+ Active 1.2L Ti-VCT

Price: £14,545 as tested

Insurance group: Six (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 49.6mpg

Top speed: 105mph

Length: 395.5cm/155.3in

Width: 174.3cm/68.5in

Luggage capacity: 9.5cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 9.2 gallons/42 litres

CO2 emissions: 129g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles